Category Archives: Boatwork

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Ellie has been Sold…. We’re Working Furiously on Quix-toxic!

For those of you who aren’t aware, we have sold our beloved Ellie to our friend Kurt Roll of San Diego; he will be taking possession here in Fiji in a couple weeks. So….since we lose our floating home mid-July, it’s imperative that we can live on Quixotic by the time Ellie sells. With that timeline in mind, we have been working furiously putting in very long days to get her back in the water, or at a minimum to get her livable.  This week we have had 12-15 people working on Quixotic each day; 5 guys doing glasswork, 5 guys inside prepping for interior paint, a few guys fixing all the stainless pulpits and stanchions and me and Lyss rebuilding and painting the port saildrive and engine.

Alyssa has completely taken charge of the interior and it’s coming along great. She picked a great off-white two-part paint and we had it shipped here from Suva. We hired a team to sand, tape and drop-cloth the entire interior of the boat and they will start spraying on paint this weekend. After the interior paint is done we will flowcoat the bilges, let her air out and then start moving in!

The guys have been making great progress on the bottom. We now have the entire bottom completely sanded down to the old epoxy barrier coat – what a mess! We tried to keep the dust contained but without the proper controls it made a huge mess and was nothing short of a small environmental disaster of a worksite. We have cleaned up as much as possible. Now we know why it would cost 20x more to have your bottom paint removed in San Francisco! We found the old waterline….5 inches below the current paint! The brackets for the crossbeam have been fit and will be finalized early next week. We had to order more glass so the keels will be reinforced and faired next week. But otherwise, the bottom is watertight and almost done!!  We have also bought all the epoxy barrier-coat sealer, two-pack Interprotect primer and Micron 66 bottom paint we will be using. We’re so close!

Alyssa and I have been working hard on the saildrive and engine. This is the first boat we have owned with saildrives and we were a little hesitant about the one square foot hole in the bottom of the boat….so we bought a new diaphragm ($500 Yanmar!?!? really???) and have torn the saildrive apart and rebuilt it. It was underwater for two weeks but the oil seals held and there was no water in the oil. So the work to rebuild included rust treating and painting the steel brackets, installing a new flexible mount, replacing the diaphragms and stainless rings, replacing the oil seals, new zincs and then stripping the antifouling down to bare aluminum, priming with Interprotect and then painting with Trilux 33. Alyssa was cute painting and she kept saying that she was loving our “art project date nights.” Do I have the best girl in the world or what?!?!? :-)

Oh, and you’re not going to believe what we found in the raw water cooling hose that runs from the saildrive to the engine! I was blowing through the hose to check if it was clear and I couldn’t get air through so I ripped it apart. Alyssa noticed a flimsy hose fitting on the engine side and she loosened the clamp and removed the fitting. She exclaimed “Oh my God, it’s a Gatorade cap!” It sure was, and the cap had closed when I blew through it. We were both astonished that the cooling system – such a crucial part of the engine – was relying on a cheap plastic bottle cap! And below the waterline at that! We can’t say for sure that the fitting was used in action, it very well could have been to flush the saildrive after she was brought out of the water….but an exciting find none-the-less!

Today we will continue working on the engine. The engine was pulled immediately after being brought out of the water, then immersed in a diesel bath overnight and then ran hard, oil changed and then run again. So the internals should be fine. It’s all the external parts we are worried about. So we are pretty much stripping and replacing everything not contained within the engine. Parts such as the water pump, starters, alternators, sensors, electronics, wiring, etc. We are also cleaning the heat exchanger, replacing seals and gaskets, replacing belts, clamps, hoses, some fuel lines and an oil line. Then we will de-grease, de-scale, prime and paint. When we’re done it will look like a new engine and should be a powerplant we can rely on for years to come. That’s our weekend project so I better run to get back into it.

Here are a few pics. Will try and post more later. Cheers!!

More Quix-toxic than Quixotic in this shot…
Crossbeam ON!!
Alyssa pulls out the Gatorade cap


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Replacing oil seals in the saildrive
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Replacing the main and secondary diaphragms
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The Blonde Mermaid and her antifouling “art projects”

Quixotic Update – We have bows again!

Quixotic is being brought back to life as our A-team of Fijian fiberglass artists charge forward. She now has bows, most of her topsides are enclosed again and the keels are prepped for glasswork. Alyssa flew to Australia last weekend to visit her sister and she brought back a whole checked bag worth of engine and saildrive spares along with other crucial parts. The superyacht ENCORE, that we sailed on in Hawaii, is bringing us the much-needed closed-cell foam core material that we will use to finish repairing the topsides. ENCORE left Hawaii early last week so she is due in here end of this week; at 150ft of waterline, she makes very fast passages! Thanks again to Jono, Jarnie and the “Encorians” for the help!

The local welder has straightened the bent crossbeam and reinforced some key areas with aluminum plate. It doesn’t look pretty, but it’s functional and will serve until we can afford to buy a new one. We’ll probably end up painting it to cover up all the scratches from the dozen or so boats that hit Quixotic the night of the cyclone. But for now it will be like a piece of German engineering – more function than form. If anyone asks about all the scratches we’ll just tell them that we have had incredibly bad luck with other boats dragging down on us in anchorages!

Our local welder, Rotesh, is also going to start fabricating stanchions for us. We’ll use the base plates that are still on the boat and salvage what tubing we can. For the tubing that is bent beyond repair we will replace it with some new material that has been brought in from NZ and AUS. In the end, our new stanchions will probably match our crossbeam and be more function than works of art…but hey, it’s better than falling overboard and it will serve for now. Instead of sitting in the bow pulpit chair, go lay in the nets!

We have decided to glass over the bottom of the port hull. She was originally built with holding tanks in her keels, one of the main reasons her full flooded in the cyclone. We will feel much more comfortable knowing she is watertight with or without her keel, so this week we removed all the hose and inspection ports and will be laying glass over the bottom before attaching the new keel. We will also be filling the new keel with marine grade foam flotation for extra insurance/buoyancy. If and when we charter, we’ll just tell the guests to use the head on the starboard side during the day. It will also save me the disgusting job of dealing with another holding tank! 

We’re hoping to make a lot of progress this week with a lofty goal of having a keel by Friday and be finished with the bows. Our current timeline has us completing the major fiberglass work in two weeks. Then we transition to glasswork on the inside, followed by paint – inside and out. We are thinking of putting some absurd amount of epoxy barrier coat on, like 6 coats, why not…

Enjoy the weekend! 

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Of course there was more bike riding this week...
Of course there was more bike riding this week…


This time out to the property… love that view!
We rode out to our neighbor Chota’s farm…
…and of course gorged ourselves on Celestiny’s awesome Indian cooking!



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Quixotic Update – A Catamaran OR a Block of Swiss Cheese??!?!?

Bula Vinaka All!

Our incredible team of local Fijian fiberglass workers continue to charge forward and dig out all the delamination from Quixotics’ hull….and see for yourself in the pictures – it’s a LOT!  There are now enormous holes in her hull and topsides, ready for glasswork. Today we actually started putting new glass back ON the boat as opposed to just grinding broken glass OFF her. Alsace Miller, the “Sensei” of our fiberglass team, mixed up some polyester and chopped strand glass and started fairing the void in the starboard keel. Looks like we’ll be able to grind the shape back into it tomorrow and then we’ll lay up a few layers of the very strong quadraxial glass that arrived today. We plan to reinforce the keel before taking a mold for the port side. When we’re finished, Quixotic’s keels and areas of repair will be much stronger than before; basically the original polyester glass will have to break before our epoxy-based repairs would let go. We’ve been given a lifetime warranty from Sace and he is adamant that the repairs will outlast us! Sounds good to me!

Here are some pics of the progress…..

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We're not sure if they are doing it right but they sure made some big holes!

Quixotic Update – The Heavy Lifting Begins!

The past few days have been busy. The Mermaid and I spent a backbreaking day pressure washing the rest of the mud out of the port hull and engine compartment. We removed the saildrive, changed the oil and treated some surface rust. We disconnected the forestay and ran some more lines to support the rig. Then Sunday afternoon we called it a day and I finally got on the motorcycle for an awesome ride up the coast. This island is so beautiful!

Although we worked our asses off this weekend, our efforts paled in comparison to the progress made the past two days with the addition of five hard-working local Fijians to team Quixotic. In one day we had the crossbeam removed, a wood shelter built, and the entire boat jacked up and level on wood blocks. Today we started cutting away and grinding the broken glass. I ordered the quadraxial fiberglass cloth that the boat builder in South Africa recommended we use; a 100 lb roll is coming directly from the manufacturer in Australia and should be here by Friday. 

Have to get to the ‘yard’ so I can open the shed for the guys to get their tools. I’ll write another update in a few days. Here are some pics of the progress…


Step 1 - pressure wash mud out of closets!!
Step 1 – pressure wash mud out of closets!!
Jacking up the cat – Fiji Style!


It can't be ALL work and NO play. Sunday bike ride!
It can’t be ALL work and NO play. Sunday bike ride!
Shelter built
Shelter built


Not enough clearance? No problem mon! We dig holes under keels!
Not enough clearance? No problem mon! We dig holes under keels!


Sweet ladder they built in like 3 minutes flat....seriously
Sweet ladder they built in like 3 minutes flat….seriously
Alsace Miller – the local boat builder and our project manager


We're not sure if they are doing it right but they sure made some big holes!
We’re not 100% sure if they are doing it right but they sure made some big holes!

Stay tuned for more updates!


Our Quixotic Catamaran Purchase!

We bought a 43 foot South African-built Voyage catamaran named Quixotic, a most appropriate name for an impulsive catamaran purchase. Quixotic means exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical; impulsive and often rashly unpredictable…. I think the name suits the endeavor and our current lifestyle perfectly!

Our new-to-us catamaran was one of the many boats driven ashore in severe cyclone Winston. If you look back at the pics we posted you will see her on her side, port hull underwater, and piled up with a few other boats on the rocks. As you can assume, she is a project boat. She has many holes in her strongly-built hull, currently doesn’t float, was pulled up onto the beach in her current location, has her engine and saildrive removed from the port hull, and most all of her electrical on the port side is a write off. The good news is that most of the rest of her is OK. Her rig looks fine, sails are OK, most major electronic systems are OK, her skeg-hung rudders are OK, and the majority of her hull is water tight. So we have our work cut out for us. But it’s all possible and with patience and hard work we will return her to her former glory.

We aren’t usually of the mindset that things happen for a reason but I must say that we sure have that overwhelming feeling that we were suppose to be here at this time to save Quixotic and make her our new floating home. We couldn’t be more excited. We also need to thank Bruce “the Pirate” for tipping us off about Quixotic being for sale – he knew we’ve been looking for a wrecked cat for years – thanks again buddy!!!!

Once she is patched up, cleaned up and back together she will be an incredible vessel and outstanding living platform. She boasts four queen size staterooms, three heads, an expansive galley and salon, hard dodger, large solar array, a 25 foot beam, and is well equipped. NOW we have room for our friends and family so start dreaming of your trip to Fiji! She is also fast and can reach double-digit speeds!!

Thank you again to Ed and Nila, the former owners for trusting us and being our friends. We promise to take great care of Quixotic and will work diligently to see her sailing again soon. We wish you both the best of luck and happiness wherever your next adventure takes you. 

Well, as you can imagine, we have another full day of work ahead of us so must sign off, don sunscreen and bug spray, hydrate and get back to work!

Cheers from Savusavu,

Lewis & Alyssa

I've been carrying this book for years and scanning the horizon and reef breaks for my wrecked catamaran.....well we found her!
I’ve been carrying this book for years and scanning the horizon and reef breaks for my wrecked catamaran…..well we found her!

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Coming back to Ellie at anchor after a hard days' work. Not a bad place to be stuck for a while after all...
Coming back to Ellie at anchor after a hard days’ work. Not a bad place to be stuck for a while after all…

Bula from Ground Zero. We’re back in Fiji

Bula Bula from Savusavu! We are aboard Ellie and after four exhausting days of repair and cleanup she is back to normal. There was some minor damage to the stainless bimini frame and of course the bimini canvas that was left up was torn pretty badly. We also had a dorade box lift up and pull some screws but I have already repaired it. The bimini canvas was re-stitched by a local and is already back on and looks great. All her systems are still in working order, fridge is ice cold, pumps all work, head works, fans work, outboards and generator started on first pull, and the engine purrs like a kitten! Our extensive preparations really paid off.

Alyssa did an outstanding job attacking all the mold that was down below. Much to our surprise we cleaned enough the first day to sleep in the vberth that night. She labored away the next two days cleaning and stowing everything. We now have a livable boat again thanks to the Mermaids Herculean efforts.

I spent the last couple days wedged under boats covered in mud and mosquitoes helping pull boats off the shore. I spent one day digging under boulders in the mud strapping lines around rocks to pull them out of the way so we can get a boat free. I also spent time freeing broken shrouds and disconnecting broken masts. It’s been saddening to see the plight of fellow sailors who had their only homes driven ashore in the storm. Most don’t have insurance and will be salvaging what they can to attempt to make their boat seaworthy once again. There is a lot of work ahead.

We are in contact with Sea Mercy and are standing by to take supplies out to the outer islands that were hit hardest. As soon as they get supplies here we will sail them out to those in most need. Bruce and Jen on SKABENGA already delivered supplies to villages on Makogai. They are headed back here this evening.

The death toll continues to rise as officials reach remote islands; the last count was 44. The damage is extensive and over 60,000 people are in evacuation centers after losing their homes and most of their possessions. It will take a while for the Fijians who were affected to rebuild their lives. Amazingly though the happy Fijians have not had their smiles wiped out with their homes and as we walk around town we are greeted with the same huge smiles and “bulas!” from the locals. It’s the resilient spirit and positive attitude that will see these wonderful people through this event.

We’ll write again in a few days. Here are some pics of Ellie and some of the boats still ashore.


Lew & Lyss

February 28, 2016

Savusavu, Fiji

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Pouring Sweat but Making Progress in Savusavu – Preparing for Cyclone Season in the Tropics

I’ll start by offering up an unsolicited justification for our keeping the boat in Fiji for cyclone season; the reasons are primarily threefold: One, we don’t feel like crossing another large stretch of ocean this year. Two, we love Fiji and don’t want to leave. Three, the strong El Nino conditions in the Pacific that we are experiencing this year actually make Fiji LESS LIKELY to be hit by a major cyclone [it’s true, the water is three degrees COOLER here than it should be and if you still don’t believe me then check out Bob McDavitts’ latest weathergram.]  Lastly, did we already mention that we love it here?? Savusavu is such a great place, the Namaka Creek is extremely protected and our Helix-screw cyclone mooring is rated for over 11,000lbs. Assuming Neptune spares the worst of his wrath, Ellie will be here in the spring and we’ll be able to enjoy a full season of cruising Fiji. Alyssa may be bummed though if we don’t have to cover thousands of sea miles again next year……can you sense the sarcasm?

The past week has been spent going through Ellie from stem to stern cleaning, doing maintenance and making preparations for a lonely season by herself. We probably did a little too much research on how to properly prep the boat for a season of non-operation in the tropics. Our list of to-do’s is four pages long. We are hoping that our extensive preparations pay off when we return in the spring. We have included our list below. We’re not sure it’s the right list, but these are the preparations we are making. Feel free to let us know if we are missing anything important. This IS our first time leaving the boat for such a long period…

There has been ample time away from the boat for procrastination, usually at the local pub or at the marina with our friends. It seems like every night of the week there is another event at the marina. One night it was a wedding reception for some young cruisers, another night a birthday, another it was buffet night, and on and on. Last night was spent on the deck of the marina listening to a talented Kiwi cruiser, Jack, playing guitar. It’s fun and Lyss loves mingling with the other yachties.

We estimate we have less than a week to go at this turtle pace. Our final prep will be to flush the engine raw water cooling system with fresh water, close the thru-hull and then tow her from the dock at Copra Shed Marina to our mooring, a mere 50 yards away. I plan to dive on the mooring to inspect the gear and also attach a backup line. Our friends Craig and Leanne on TRUE BLUE V have graciously agreed to watch Ellie for us over the season. Bruce on SKABENGA will also be keeping an eye on her. She will be in good hands.

Here is our list of preparations we are making, some pics of the madness inside the cabin, and Savusavu town:



  • Change Zinc on Heat Exchanger
  • Change Transmission Fluid
  • Change Fuel Filters, Clean Racor Housing and Water Separator
  • Change Engine Oil and Filter
  • Flush vinegar solution (or salt away) through engine overnight, then flush with antifreeze and close seacock
  • Top off Diesel, use Biocide, bug screen Diesel Vent
  • Inspect/replace all hoses/hose clamps (including scupper drains)
  • Lube throttle, shift and stop cables
  • Clean, treat, paint rust
  • Drain/Disconnect Water Heater
  • Watermaker
    • Top off water tanks (add light bleach solution to tanks)
    • Change oil on high pressure pump
    • Change pre-filters
    • Pickle watermaker
    • Pickle handheld emergency watermaker in ditch bag
  • Drain, service, winterize and store dive compressor
  • Outboards
    • Drain and replace gear lube
    • Spray fogging preservative down engine intake
    • Drain carbs
    • Stow below
  • Honda Generator
    • Change oil
    • Drain, winterize, stow below


  • Remove dry sails (no salt)
  • Remove stack pack
  • Remove running rigging
  • Drop flag halyards
  • Plug boom and secure with line
  • Wash all salt off decks and rigging
  • Disconnect backstay antenna
  • Seal engine blower
  • Seal holding tank vent
  • Rinse anchor chain, dry and treat rust
  • Remove radio antennas, ais
  • Seal dorade vents
  • Seal lazarette with gasket material
  • Plug hawsepipe
  • Seal every hole into the boat (cockroaches, termites, rats, wasps)
  • Remove wind generator blades
  • Grease winches
  • Bird-proof rails and spreaders with monofilament
  • Coat thick wax on fiberglass
  • Empty/stow all jerry cans
  • Fill propane tanks
  • Clean/stow grill


  • Unplug all electronics
  • Remove batteries from all electronics
  • Hide valuable gear
  • Remove speed impeller
  • Oil all pumps (bilge/sump/etc)
  • Inspect/service all seacocks
  • Bleach and vinegar chain locker
  • Clean out every compartment
    • Bleach
    • Inventory
    • Take pictures of expensive gear
    • Wipe with vinegar
    • Leave ventilated
  • Clean and vasoline all ports
    • Cover with foil and curtains
  • Galley
    • Give away all perishables and dry goods likely to attract bugs (flour, pasta, etc)
    • Empty all food storage (pantry, spice racks, etc), bleach, vinegar, spray with bug spray (leave empty)
    • Defrost, bleach fridge/freezer, spray with bug spray, leave open
    • Deep clean stove/oven (especially under and behind), spray bug spray, leave bug/rat traps under/behind
    • Clean/bleach sump pump, spray with bug spray
  • Deep clean bilges, spray for bugs, leave roach and rat traps
  • Clean all surfaces (ceilings, walls, cabinets, floors) to rid salt, dust, and mold
    • Wipe with vinegar solution
  • Wash/dry all fabrics left aboard (clothing, foulies, cushion covers, towels, curtains, etc)
  • Flush fresh water and vinegar solution down sink drains and toilets before closing seacocks
    • Cover toilet bowl with saran wrap to prevent evaporation
  • Set up alarm system with warning sign
  • Post emergency contact info in cockpit
  • Install dehumidifier on 12v timer with drain outlet to bilge
  • Pack laptops, iPads, hard drives, cameras to take off boat
  • Scan and electronically file copies of vessel documentation, cruising log, clearance papers, etc.; store in waterproof bags near nav table
  • Send inventory list to insurance


  • Change zincs on prop, shaft and strut
  • Inspect moorning shackles
  • Plug exhaust 
  • Plug shower sump outlet
  • Plug high water bilge outlet 
  • Chafe guard mooring pennant


  • Check chafe on mooring lines
  • Inspect bilge, test bilge pump
  • Check battery charge
  • Clean scupper drains
  • Wash decks

It’s a long list… On the bright side, we are about halfway through!

Here are some pics of where Ellie will be spending cyclone season:

The view from Ellie's masthead as seen from our cyclone mooring. Copra Shed Marina below.
The view from Ellie’s masthead as seen from our cyclone mooring. Copra Shed Marina below.
View from the masthead towards town
View from the masthead towards town
The cabin has been a total disaster as we empty out every compartment and the MErmaid attacks it with bleach and then vinegar (to prevent mold)
The cabin has been a total disaster as we empty out every compartment and the Mermaid attacks it with bleach and then vinegar (to prevent mold)
How lucky am I? A hottie that doesn't mind getting grease under her fingernails!!
How lucky am I? A hottie that doesn’t mind getting grease under her fingernails!!
The market here is awesome!
The market here is awesome!


We really hope we're not coming back to this in the spring!
We really hope we’re not coming back to this in the spring!
The market as seen from the mooring
The market as seen from the mooring
We thought we'd leave you with a sunset shot of Ellie at anchor off Paradise Resort, Taveuni. Cheers
We thought we’d leave you with a sunset shot of Ellie at anchor off Paradise Resort, Taveuni. Cheers

Boat Projects (almost) Complete – Some Theft – and Our Exit Strategy

After a long weekend of boat projects, we are finally wrapping up and planning our departure for Tonga on Thursday. We received the batteries and the new transmission on Saturday. I had the 300 lbs of new batteries installed by Saturday evening and tackled the transmission install on Sunday. With the Mermaid passing me tools, we had the old transmission removed and the new one in place by Sunday evening, but the shaft coupling was a half an inch above the transmission coupling. As a result we had to raise the entire engine up and then align everything. This proved very difficult because the bolts on the engine mounts had not been spun in 30 years and they were almost seized to the posts. After an entire afternoon of soaking them in PB blaster and removing a huge stainless bar from the galley to get more leverage, we popped them loose and were able to raise the engine up the required half an inch. This would not have been possible without the use of a bottle screw jack I borrowed from the large yacht ARIA. I am happy to report that as of this evening the transmission is installed, the shaft couplings aligned (to within .005 of an inch), and the stuffing box adjusted. The only thing left to do is place a new piece of starboard under the exhaust riser and then test everything out. Hold your breath for me as this is by far the largest and most technical mechanical project I have ever undertaken by myself. I had my trusty book by Nigel Calder to guide me on the alignment but I’ll still be holding my breath when I put her in gear tomorrow.  

So about the recent theft… We were doing our laundry the other day and while the clothes were drying we decided to go grab a beer at the hotel. We also filled the propane bottle earlier that day and I was really tired of hauling it around so I left it in the laundry room, that was FULL of video cameras. I thought that someone would have to be pretty bold to steal it in front of all those cameras. I also knew there was a decent chance it would go missing if I left it but I was tired of carrying it around and we have another one anyway. Sometimes I like to do these tests of human decency. Well, humanity failed and the bottle went missing in the hour we were gone. Two local girls saved the day and told me to ask next door at the store because one of the workers took it. The response from Chinese lady #1 was that the cameras don’t record and there is nothing they can do. The local girls didn’t like this answer and stormed into the laundry room to confront Asian lady #1 and #2. They were adamant that worker guy #1 took it and wouldn’t give up. I was just enjoying watching this drama unfold and was more amused than upset. Asian lady #2 ended up driving to the guys house up in the mountains to retrieve my stolen bottle. After the bottle was returned by Asian lady #2, worker guy #1 appeared in the laundry room to explain to me that he was just keeping it for us and was going to return it the next day…..riiiiiiiiiiight. I didn’t buy it and neither did the two awesome local girls. We tried to thank them by buying them something from the store but they would only accept our thanks and friendship. Thank you again Loige and Kisa!!!!

Despite the run-in with sticky fingers worker guy #1, we’ve really been enjoying Samoa. The locals are so helpful and incredibly friendly, the landscape magnificent and the amenities convenient, but this anchorage leaves much to be desired. Truth be told the fish smell from the cannery is starting to get to me. There is also a really bad Dengue Fever epidemic on the island and people of all ages are dying every day. We have to completely cover ourselves in mosquito spray each time we go to shore. Those who have been following the blog know just how much I love mosquitoes, and those that can kill you put my paranoia into DEFCON 5. 

We are riding out yet another shear line tonight that is whipping 30 knots into the bay with driving rain. We’re very glad we tied off to the large ship mooring while it was calm. Looks like the SE winds will start to clock easterly by mid-week. We’ll use the rest of the passing high to put the trades on the beam and sail the 325 miles SW to Tonga. Thursday night and Friday will be in stiff trades on the beam but the weekend looks really nice. We’ll leave Samoa Thursday evening and plan to arrive in Tonga by Sunday afternoon. Vava’u promises clam anchorages, great diving and kiteboarding, cruising friends old and new, and all the amenities to keep the Princess happy. We’re both very excited.

I’ll try and get the pictures and a couple videos uploaded before we leave. In the meantime here are a couple pics of the transmission install:

Out with the old...
Out with the old… with the new
…in with the new
I only had to adjust the mounts 80 times each...
I only had to adjust the mounts 80 times each…

Non-stop Boat Projects…. Almost Done

I’ve been working on the boat day and night for the past month. I start when we rise and work until Alyssa gets off work around 10pm.  It was fun in the beginning but I’m getting burned out on projects and luckily Ellie is almost ready for sea again.  Half of the projects were fun quality-of-life improvements, the other half were strength and safety items, and I kept finding more to add.

In the quality-of-life improving category we have installed the following:

1) Brewing setup

2) New swinging screen doors for companionway (I broke out the tinted plexi and installed mosquito screen – came out awesome and allows great airflow through the boat)

3) Stereo remote control in cockpit (volume control from hammock – oh ya)

4) Saltwater pressure water tap at galley sink (we estimate that half our water usage is from dishes – this should buy us another week before having to run the watermaker)

5) Red LED light over nav table (priceless under way)

6) New fans (turbo fans for $17 off amazon – they sound like blow dryers – we’ll let you know if they are still working when we land in Oz) 

7) New 0.5 micron drinking water filter (high quality drinking water filters for our new sparkling water system of course)

8) Bleached and cleaned the entire fresh water system

9) Installed new digital thermostat for fridge (gotta keep that beer cold!)

10) Added a flag halyard block under port spreader (to fly burgees)

11) New music has been downloaded to add to our library (our MP3 library was extensive but totally lacking music recorded after 2000 – this has been reconciled)

We also acquired a new complete kiteboarding setup, inflatable paddleboard (thanks Slove!), and a used digital SLR camera AND a GoPro to film this epic upcoming season.

In the safety department we have:

1) Reconditioned the powder-coated steel propane tanks (I hate these but they don’t make aluminum or composite tanks that fit our propane locker)

2) Renewed the cooling system on the engine

3) Oil change, racor filter change and new belt

4) Installed new Raymarine AIS receiver unit (the old one was only working intermittently)

5) Installed new masthead VHF antenna (for no reason it turns out – I later found out the connector at the back of the VHF was poorly installed and shorting itself out. Oh well, moving on.)

6) Bought and spliced in 225 feet of new 5/16″ galvanized G43 anchor chain (and then figured out the old chain was also G43….I thought it was Mexican generic crap but turns out all chain in North America is now made in Mexico and considered ‘domestic’ … Lesson learned the expensive way.. I managed to sell the old chain on craigslist for $300 so am only out $500 and now we have brand new chain)

7) Replaced a temporary plastic coupling in fuel vent line with a permanent brass one

8) Inspected and oiled the steering system cables and chain (it’s sooooo smooth now!)

9) Cleaned and lubed the autopilot

10) Bought, and installed at the helm, a Raymarine A65 chartplotter I found on craigslist for $250 (I finally broke down and decided to buy a chartplotter because the cm93 charts we have on our laptop-based Open CPN program had very little detail for the Line Islands and didn’t have nearly the detail I wanted for Fiji, so we are now set up with the latest and greatest)

11) I finally shimmed the boom vang (not so much a safety issue as much as an annoyance at sea with that incessant clicking)

While I was up the mast replacing the VHF antenna I also noticed a single strand break on our aft starboard lower shroud so I ordered new wire and a new mechanical HI-MOD fitting. When the parts arrived I went up the mast, dropped the old wire, put spectra line in place to stabilize the rig and laid the old wire on the dock to measure the length. Turns out it was not a single strand break but three! Good thing we caught it. Looks like we will need to be watching the rigging closely this season. We plan to re-rig in Australia; it was new in 2011 but has seen over 20,000 miles since then!  Anyway, while I was hammering the wire out of the stubborn old fitting that did not want to release the wire, the $80 fitting slipped out from under my hammer, flew off the dock and promptly sunk! I wasn’t even mad – probably wouldn’t have been able to get the damn thing out anyways. So we have ordered another Hi-Mod terminal which should arrive on Monday.

So, replacing that shroud should be the final project I complete before departing for Tahiti on Friday. It better be because I’m running low on boat bucks!  Forget about waxing the hull myself – life is too short – it’s hot as hell here – and Alyssa’s making money – we’re gonna pay some guy to do it.  

Between March 7th and the beginning of April I will be helping a friend sail his Outremer 55 catamaran up to Hawaii. Once I get back to Hawaii we will provision Ellie up, sell the roach car and get the hell out of dodge! I want to visit Kauai first then make our way south to the Big Island again to clear out and then sail for Fanning Island in Kiribati. Unfortunately we will not be allowed to visit Palmyra Atoll due to budget constraints in the oh-so-well-run US Government; LAME!

Here are some pics of my latest projects. These were taken with our new camera; a craigslist special by the way – Canon DSLR for $70…not bad right?

New Image

Old shroud – triple strand break – not good
New shroud – step 1 – splay wires

Step 2 – Insert cone on inner wires and neatly wrap outer wires around cone
Step 3 – Screw on end fitting to compress wires. Then we add sealant and loctite for final assembly. Easy right?

Here’s a shot of the fitting right before it went swimming due to my aggressive hammer tactics…
I, Man Drill Hole [n caveman accent]. This was for the saltwater galley tap.